2 March 2012

John 3:22-36

"He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice." (v. 29)


This passage begins with a discussion between disciples of John the Baptist and a "Jew" who is not named, but who (like Nicodemus) is a representative of the wider group/community. The discussion returns to the issue of purification which was alluded to in John 2:1-11, yet the whole section is about Baptism, and the relation between John the Baptist and Jesus.

What is the concern? Everyone is going to Jesus to be baptized.

A conversation then takes place with John and his disciples - about Baptism - introduced as a conversation about purification.

John, also addressed as a "Rabbi", and Jesus are baptizing, although a correction is given later that it was Jesus' disciples who were baptizing (John 4:2).

So where does the real leadership lie? (Such questions were obviously important in and around the Johannine Christian community - the first recipients of John's Gospel.)

John the Baptist consistently points away from himself towards Jesus: "I am not the Messiah" (v. 28).

Do the words attributed to him here allude to the developing theology of the Church as a "bride", and Christ as the "bridegroom"?

The words in verses 31 to 36 reflect a view of the Johannine Christian community that "the Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands" (v. 35).

To Ponder

Look a map of the Holy Land at the time of Jesus and find out where Aenon (verse 23) was.

Reflect on the rich symbolism of the Church as the Body and also the Bride of Christ. What does it mean to you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Inderjit Bhogal

Inderjit Bhogal is a Methodist minister with a wide experience at local, regional, national and international levels. He is a former president of the British Methodist Conference and is currently working as leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.